Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
Last week, I listed what I feel are the five best things in NBA Live 14. I’m continuing the trend of focusing on the positive in this week’s Friday Five, as I take a look at the next gen version of NBA 2K14 and some of my favourite elements of the game so far.
To be honest, I still have mixed feelings about NBA 2K14 on PlayStation 4. It’s by no means a terrible game, yet I’ve had trouble really getting into it as I don’t feel myself drawn into any of the game modes as in years past. Having said that, there’s certainly greatness in the game that stands out and deserves to be acknowledged. So, without any further ado, here are my picks for the five best things in NBA 2K14 next gen.
1. The Eco-Motion Engine
For me, NBA 2K14 on PlayStation 4 plays a lot like NBA 2K14 on PC. That’s not a bad thing of course, as it means that everything that has made NBA 2K’s gameplay so enjoyable in recent years has made the leap to the next generation. Unfortunately, a few issues from the previous generation are still present, but hopefully those will be ironed out in the coming years.
NBA 2K14 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One does boast a new game engine though – Eco-Motion – and while there are a lot of similarities to its current gen brethren, there are also some noteworthy differences. Player Emotion is probably the most prominent example, with its offensive and defensive hot and cold streaks. It demonstrates improvement in player AI and furthers the idea that each player has a brain and a personality, with an ability to react to the flow of the game.
Eco-Motion seems as though it will be great tech to build upon, as it already has substantial polish and the transition hasn’t resulted in the gameplay suffering any setbacks. All in all, it should mean great things for the series moving forward.
2. MyGM’s Potential
I’d like to simply say that MyGM is one of the best things in NBA 2K14 next gen – and in all fairness, it’s up there – but unfortunately, the presence of Virtual Currency greatly hinders the mode. One could suggest that the use of VC represents a GM’s need to spend money, but that’s still a flimsy justification for the inclusion of microtransactions in a mode that really shouldn’t have them. Granted, you don’t have to spend real money to get VC, but in my opinion the concept is still out of place.
Now, having said all of that, MyGM has a lot of great ideas and a lot of potential…if 2K can keep VC out of the picture. While the return of a more traditional multiseason mode such as Association would be welcome in future games, MyGM is an immersive concept that extends the virtual GM experience beyond simply managing names in a database. Negotiations, dealing with different personalities, financial tasks, accountability…there’s a lot on offer that represents a step forward in team management modes. Again, it’s just a shame that there’s VC involved.
3. Same Control Scheme as Current Gen
In a previous Friday Five, I mentioned that I’d like to see NBA Live and NBA 2K both avoid the pitfall of making drastic changes to their respective control schemes with every release during this generation. NBA 2K14 has started out on the right foot in that regard, retaining the same control scheme as the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of the game.
While I’m not the biggest fan of having shooting controls on the right stick (especially when combined with dribbling controls) and disagree that it’s a must-have feature, it hasn’t worked out too badly in NBA 2K14. I don’t find myself shooting by accident all that often – certainly not as much as I feared I might – and the fact that the control scheme is uniform across all platforms allows me to easily go back and forth between the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game. I definitely like that 2K didn’t tinker unnecessarily with the controls, just for the sake of having something new and different for next gen.
4. Gameplay Sliders
Sliders have become a vital element of sports games. No matter how good the product is out of the box, most sports gamers do want to make a few tweaks to the gameplay here and there, adjusting frequencies and tendencies to enhance the realism or increase the challenge. When it was revealed that NBA Live 14 would not feature any sliders apart from foul frequency, it was certainly a disappointment.
Thankfully, NBA 2K14 next gen has retained the same gameplay sliders as the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version, allowing us to make a wide variety of adjustments to gameplay as desired. Considering that other aspects of customisation aren’t necessarily ideal on next gen – namely cloud storage for rosters and the lack of Create-a-Player – it’s great to see that gameplay sliders haven’t fallen by the wayside.
5. Graphics & Animations
Not to sell the AI and other under-the-hood elements of the Eco-Motion engine short, but I’m perhaps saving the best for last here. Simply put, NBA 2K14 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One looks fantastic. It’s a definite step up from the previous generation and a game that, as JaoSming put it on the NLSC Podcast, can sell the new consoles. Graphics aren’t paramount to me, but I can certainly appreciate the aesthetics of NBA 2K14 next gen.
Something that received a considerable amount of hype before the game’s release was the fact that gamers wouldn’t see the exact same animation twice, whether it was a particular dunk or the way that a player lands after a jumpshot. I don’t feel that it’s very noticeable play-to-play, but that’s the way it should be after all; those differences should be subtle. On the whole, the animations look great and are pretty smooth. I do still feel that there are out of some control moments every now and again, but it’s nothing that renders the game unplayable. As with the other aspects of Eco-Motion, NBA 2K14’s graphics and animations are off to a good start for this generation.
That’s all for this week. What do you feel are some of the best things in NBA 2K14 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? Let me know in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in, please join me again next Friday for another Five.